FAQs: Minimum Wage Law

What is the national minimum wage?

The national minimum wage is a minimum amount set by the government that employers may pay their employees per hour of work. Most UK workers over school leaving age are legally entitled to be paid at least the national minimum wage.

Who is entitled to the national minimum wage?

Nearly all UK workers are entitled to be paid the national minimum wage, including foreigners working in the UK. This includes all workers who have a contract of employment, whether written or oral. The national minimum wage does not normally apply to self-employed persons. Apprentices are entitled to the national minimum wage applicable to their apprenticeship.

Which workers are exempt from the national minimum wage?

The main categories of workers exempt from the minimum wage laws are voluntary workers and those undertaking unpaid internships and work experience. Whilst there are some laws preventing exploitation of workers in these scenarios, the general rule is that such positions may be unpaid and thus not subject to the national minimum wage.

How much is the national minimum wage?

The national minimum wage varies depending on the employee’s age and the type of work and industry. To work out the national minimum wage applicable to your role you need to look up the relevant wage level and then calculate it against a reference period.

Some deductions may then need to be paid from that figure, such as for any other contributions that your employer makes towards you. The Pay and Work Rights Helpline gives advice on calculating the national minimum wage. For latest basic rates of pay, click here.

What happens if an employer doesn’t pay the national minimum wage?

If you have calculated your applicable national minimum wage and believe you are being underpaid, you should discuss this with your employer in the first instance. If your employer refuses to pay you the national minimum wage you may be able to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal.

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